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    Romeo et Juliette

    Composer: Charles Gounod


    PROLOGUE. A chorus introduces the story of the endless feud between the Montague and Capulet families, and of the love between their children, Roméo and Juliette.

    ACT I. Verona, 14th century. At a masked ball at the Capulet palace, Tybalt waits for his cousin Juliette and assures her suitor, Count Paris, that her beauty will overwhelm him. Capulet presents his daughter to the guests and invites them to dance. The crowd disperses and Roméo, a Montague, enters with his friends Mercutio and Benvolio. He tells them about a strange dream he has had, but Mercutio dismisses it as the work of the fairy Queen Mab ("Mab, reine des mensonges"). Roméo watches Juliette dance and is instantly entranced with her. Juliette tells her nurse that she is not interested in marriage ("Je veux vivre"), but when Roméo approaches her, both feel that they are meant for each other. Just as they discover each other's identity, Tybalt returns. Roméo masks himself and rushes off. Tybalt identifies the intruder as Montague's son, but Capulet restrains him, ordering the party to continue.

    ACT II. Later that night, Roméo enters the Capulets' garden, looking for Juliette ("Ah! lève-toi, soleil!"). When she steps out onto her balcony, he comes forward and declares his love. Servants briefly interrupt their encounter. Alone again, they vow to marry.

    ACT III. Roméo comes to Friar Laurence's cell at daybreak, followed by Juliette and her nurse, Gertrude. Convinced of the strength of their love, the priest agrees to marry them, hoping that the union will end the fighting between their families.

    Outside Capulet's house, Roméo's page, Stéphano, sings a mocking song. This provokes a fight with several of the Capulets. Mercutio protects Stéphano and is challenged by Tybalt. Roméo appears and tries to make peace, asking Tybalt to forget about the hatred between their families, but after Tybalt kills Mercutio, Roméo stabs him. The Duke of Verona arrives, and both factions cry for justice. Roméo is banished from the city.

    ACT IV. Roméo and Juliette awake after their secret wedding night. She forgives him for killing her cousin, and after they have assured each other of their love, Roméo reluctantly leaves for exile (Duet: "Nuit d'hyménée"). Capulet enters and tells his daughter that she must marry Paris that same day. She is left alone, desperate, with Friar Laurence, who gives her a sleeping potion that will make her appear dead. He promises that she will wake with Roméo beside her. Juliette drinks the potion ("Amour, ranime mon courage"). When Capulet and the guests arrive to lead her to the chapel, she collapses.

    ACT V. Roméo arrives at the Capulets' crypt and discovers Juliette. He believes her to be dead and drinks poison. At that moment, she awakens, and the lovers share a final dream of a future together. As Roméo grows weaker, Juliette takes out a dagger that she has hidden in her clothes and stabs herself. The lovers die praying for God's forgiveness.

    L’Italiana in Algeri

    Composer: Gioachino Rossini


    ACT I. In Algiers, at the seaside palace of the bey Mustafà, his wife, Elvira, complains that her husband no longer loves her; her attendants reply there is nothing she can do. Mustafà himself bursts in. Asserting he will not let women get the better of him, he sends Elvira away when she complains. Mustafà says he has tired of his wife and will give her to Lindoro, a young Italian at the court, to marry. Then he orders Haly, a captain in his service, to provide an Italian woman for himself-someone more interesting than the girls in his harem, all of whom bore him. Lindoro longs for his own sweetheart, Isabella, whom he lost when pirates captured him. Mustafà tells him he can have Elvira, insisting she posseses every virtue that Lindoro, in his attempt to escape Mustafà's connubial trap, has listed.

    Elsewhere along the shore, a shipwreck is spotted in the distance, and Haly's pirates exult in the catch. Isabella arrives on shore, lamenting the cruelty of a fate that has interrupted her quest for her lost fiancé, Lindoro. Though in danger, she is confident of her skill in taming men. The pirates seize Taddeo, an aging admirer of Isabella's, and attempt to sell him into slavery, but he claims he is Isabella's uncle and cannot leave her. When the Turks learn that both captives are Italian, they rejoice in having found the new star for their leader's harem. Taddeo is aghast at the aplomb with which Isabella takes his news, but after a quarrel about his jealousy, they decide they had better face their predicament together.

    Elvira's slave, Zulma, tries to reconcile Lindoro and her mistress to the fact that Mustafà has ordered them to marry. Mustafà promises Lindoro he may return to Italy -- if he will take Elvira. Seeing no other way, Lindoro accepts, making it clear he might not marry Elvira until after they reach Italy. Elvira, however, loves her husband and sees no advantage in aiding Lindoro's escape. When Haly announces the capture of an Italian woman, Mustafà gloats in anticipation of conquest, then leaves to meet her. Lindoro tries to tell Elvira she has no choice but to leave her heartless husband.

    In the main hall of his palace, hailed by eunuchs as "the scourge of women," Mustafà welcomes Isabella with ceremony. Aside, she remarks that he looks ridiculous and feels certain that she will be able to deal with him; he, on the other hand, finds her enchanting. As she seemingly throws herself on his mercy, the jealous Taddeo starts to make a scene and is saved only when she declares that he is her "uncle." Elvira and Lindoro, about to leave for Italy, come to say good-bye to the bey, and Lindoro and Isabella are stunned to recognize each other. To prevent Lindoro's departure, Isabella insists that Mustafà cannot banish his wife, adding that Lindoro must stay as her own personal servant. Between the frustration of Mustafà's plans and the happy but confused excitement of the lovers, everyone's head reels.

    ACT II. Elvira and various members of the court are discussing how easily the Italian woman has cowed Mustafà, giving Elvira hope of regaining his love. When Mustafà enters, however, it is to declare he will visit Isabella in her room for coffee. She comes out of her room, upset because Lindoro apparently broke faith with her by agreeing to escape with Elvira. Lindoro appears and reassures her of his loyalty. Promising a scheme for their freedom, Isabella leaves him to his rapturous feelings. After he too leaves, Mustafà reappears, followed by attendants with the terrified Taddeo, who is to be honored as the bey's Kaimakan, or personal bodyguard, in exchange for helping secure Isabella's affections. Dressed in Turkish garb, he sees no choice but to accept the compulsory honor.

    In her apartment, Isabella dons Turkish clothes herself and prepares for Mustafà's visit, telling Elvira that the way to keep her husband is to be more assertive. As she completes her toilette, Isabella, knowing she is overheard by Mustafà in the background, sings a half-mocking invocation to Venus to help conquer her victim. To make him impatient, she keeps him waiting, as her "servant" Lindoro acts as go-between. At length she presents herself to the bey, who introduces Taddeo as his Kaimakan. Mustafà sneezes -- a signal for Taddeo to leave-but Taddeo stays, and Isabella invites Elvira to stay for coffee, to Mustafà's displeasure. When Isabella insists that he treat his wife gently, Mustafà bursts out in annoyance, while the others wonder what to make of his fulminations.

    Elsewhere in the palace, Haly predicts that his master is no match for an Italian woman. As Lindoro and Taddeo plan their escape, Taddeo says he is Isabella's true love. Lindoro is amused but realizes he needs Taddeo's help in dealing with Mustafà, who enters, still furious. Lindoro says Isabella actually cares very much for the bey and wants him to prove his worthiness by entering the Italian order of Pappataci. Believing this to be an honor, Mustafà asks what he has to do. Simple, says Lindoro: eat, drink, and sleep all you like, oblivious to anything around you. Aside, Haly and Zulma wonder what Isabella is up to.

    In her apartment, Isabella readies a feast of initiation for the bey, exhorting her fellow Italians to be confident. Mustafà arrives, and Lindoro reminds him of the initiation procedure. After he is pronounced a Pappataci, food is brought in, and he is tested by Isabella and Lindoro, who pretend to make love while Taddeo reminds Mustafà to ignore them. A ship draws up in the background, and the lovers prepare to embark with other Italian captives, but Taddeo realizes that he too is being tricked and tries to rally Mustafà, who persists in keeping his vow of paying no attention. When Mustafà finally responds, the Italians have the situation under control and bid a courteous farewell. Mustafà, his lesson learned, takes Elvira back, and everyone sings the praises of the resourceful Italian woman.

    -- courtesy of Opera News

    The Coffee Cantata

    Composer: Bach


    The “Coffee Cantata” is the nickname of a cantata BWV 211, “Schwegt stille, plaudert nicht ( Kaffee Kantate)”, written by Bach around 1732 as an answer to the coffee craze that was sweeping Leipzig in the 1730s. The name translates into English as “Be quiet, do not chat” (Coffee Cantata).

    Lighthearted and short, the piece remains a popular performance choice because for being extremely funny, and most of all *about coffee*! Bach wrote the Coffee Cantata at Zimmerman’s Coffee House in Leipzig, a fashionable social establishment back then.

    It is known that Bach, the pre-eminent Lutheran composer loved food and coffee.

    In Germany, coffee was not accepted in the home until the second half of the 18th century. This was due to a mixture of factors: a long standing fondness for local beer, a general distrust of things considered “un-German”, as well as ongoing prohibition and taxes, specifically directed against coffee. So to understand the cantata, one must understand the times in which Johann lived and what he must have felt in a coffee-hating society as a lover of the aromatic bean juice.

    Bach wrote about twenty such “secular” cantatas, mostly to be performed as comic pieces or masques. It’s the closest he came to writing comic operettas. The libretto he chose was a satirical poem by Christian Friedrich Henrici, who went by the name “Picander” when writing social satire. The cantata as written is scored for soprano, tenor and bass, accompanied by transverse flute, 2 violins, 1 viola, and continuo, but it has also been transcribed into a standard 4-part choral format .

    The story concerns a willful daughter named Lieschen who is addicted to coffee. Her father, Schlendrian, a good German, is perplexed that his dear daughter drinks the hated coffee! He insists she stops; she insists she needs the coffee buzz.

    What’s a father to do? Well, in the cantata he makes a threat: no husband until she gives up the java bean! In Bach’s Germany, the father found the husband and arranged a marriage. And no maiden wanted to become an old maid! Thus Lieschen agrees to forego coffee for a husband. But while daddy goes searching, Lieschen makes it clear she will not marry any man that would refuse her coffee.

    *“Ah, how sweet coffee tastes – lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel”* says Liseschen!

    The Story of Amahl

    Composer: Menotti


    Somewhere in the world lives a crippled little shepherd called Amahl, with his mother, an impoverished widow. Nothing is left to them of the little they ever had, and they are now faced with hunger and cold in their empty house.

    Three Wise Men, on their way to Bethlehem, stop at the hut and ask to be taken in for the night. Amahl and his mother welcome them and their Page as well as they can, and are much astonished at the splendor of their robes and the wealth of gifts they are carrying with them. When Amahl's mother realizes that the Three Kings are looking for a newborn babe and that the expensive gifts are all destined for him, she becomes bitter and envious. She cannot understand why at least some of these gifts could not be given to her own child, who is so poor and sickly.

    Under cover of darkness, while the Three Kings are asleep, she steals some of the gold from them - and is caught red-handed. When she explains to the Three Kings that she needs the gold to feed her starving child, she is readily forgiven. With great tenderness they try to explain to her who this newborn child is and how much he needs the love of every human being to build his coming kingdom. Touched by their words, the poor widow not only gives back the stolen gold, but wishes she could add a gift of her own. Little Amahl comes to her rescue. He impulsively hands the Three Kings his wooden crutch, his most precious possession, and in so doing he is miraculously cured of his lameness.

    As dawn appears in the sky, the Three Kings prepare to resume their journey. Amahl begs his mother to let him join them, and he is finally allowed to follow the Kings to Bethlehem to adore and give thanks to the Christ Child.


    Composer: Ruggero Leoncavallo


    Before the opera begins, Tonio the clown steps before the curtain ("Si può?") to announce that the author has written a true story and that even actors and clowns have the same joys and sorrows as other people.

    Villagers in a town in Calabria gather around a small theatrical company that has just arrived. Canio, the head of the troupe, describes the night's offerings ("Un grande spettacolo"). When one of the villagers suggests that Tonio is secretly courting Canio's wife, Nedda, Canio warns that he will tolerate no flirting off stage ("Un tal gioco"). Vesper bells call the women to church and the men to the tavern, leaving Nedda alone. Disturbed by her husband's jealousy, she envies the freedom of the birds in flight ("Stridono lassù"). Tonio tries to force himself on her. She beats him back and he swears revenge. In fact, Nedda does have a lover-Silvio, who appears and persuades her to run away with him after the evening's performance ("E allor perchè"). Tonio overhears this and hurries off to tell Canio. The jealous husband bursts in on the guilty pair, but Silvio runs away before Canio can identify him. Nedda, even when threatened with a knife, refuses to reveal the man's name. Beppe, another clown, restrains Canio and Tonio advises him to wait until the evening's performance to catch Nedda's lover. Alone, Canio bitterly reflects that he must play the clown while his heart is breaking ("Vesti la giubba").

    The villagers, including Silvio, assemble to see the commedia dell'arte performance. Harlequin (played by Beppe) serenades Columbine (Nedda) and dismisses her buffoonish servant Taddeo (Tonio). The two lovers dine together and plot to poison Columbine's husband Pagliaccio (played by Canio), who soon arrives. Harlequin slips away. With pointed malice, Taddeo assures Pagliaccio of his wife's innocence, which ignites Canio's jealousy. Forgetting the play, he demands Nedda tell him the name of her lover ("No, Pagliaccio non son"). She tries to continue with the play, the audience enthralled by its realism. Enraged, Canio stabs Nedda and Silvio, who rushes to help her. Tonio announces to the horrified villagers that the comedy is ended.

    Gianni Schicchi

    Composer: Giacomo Puccini


    The Palazzo of Buoso Donati in Florence

    The greedy relatives of the wealthy Buoso Donati gather at his deathbed to mourn his passing and investigate the details of his will. There are rumors that the old man has left nearly everything to a monastery. If his will has not been filed with a notary, however, there is still hope for the relatives, who begin a frantic search for the document. Young Rinuccio finds it and makes his Aunt Zita promise to let him marry his beloved Lauretta if there is enough money. They read the will, which proves the rumors were true; the relatives finally shed genuine tears. Rinuccio suggests that Lauretta's father, Gianni Schicchi, a shrewd self-made man, can help them: this new breed of peasant-turned-businessman will invigorate Florence, which the young man compares to a tree in full flower ("Firenze è come un albero fiorito"). Schicchi appears with Lauretta. Disgusted by the hypocrisy and avarice of the aristocratic family, Schicchi is about to leave but decides to stay when Lauretta proclaims her intention to marry Rinuccio ("O mio babbino caro"). Reading the will, Schicchi devises a plan to impersonate the dead man. He sends Lauretta home and orders the body removed from the bed.

    The doctor arrives to check on Buoso, but Schicchi's voice convinces the addled doctor that the patient is improving. Schicchi tells the relatives to send for the notary and, putting on Buoso's nightshirt and cap, promises to dictate a new will. The relatives each try to get a promise from Schicchi that he will leave the best parts of the estate to them. Schicchi agrees with every secret request and warns each that they must keep the secret forever or face the punishment as accessories to a fraud-a hand cut off and eternal banishment from Florence. The notary arrives with witnesses, and Schicchi dictates that the great part of the estate, including the house they are all in, is to be left to his good friend Gianni Schicchi! The relatives are furious but can say nothing, and when the notary leaves they fall on Schicchi and steal what they can from the house. Schicchi orders them out of his house and points to the young lovers, standing out on the terrace gazing at the blossoming city. Turning to the audience, he points out how happy his fraud has made the young lovers, and pleads for a verdict of not guilty.


    South Korean mezzo-soprano, Myeongsook Park, Isabella has garnered acclaim in the United States and abroad. Among her most recent successes are Carmen with Bel Cantanti Opera  in Washington DC receiving the following reviews in Washington Times: “As Carmen, Mezzo Soprano Myeongsook Park turned in a saucy, fine performance with a sultry voice and demeanor that breathed new life into her already lively character.” and concerts at the Caramoor Festival where she performed on the Mozart Gala along with Sumi Jo, Will Crutchfield and the Caramoor Orchestra. During the same season she covered Ewa Podles for Caramoor’s production of Tancredi. She also sang the role of Zita (Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi) with respectively Bel Cantanti Opera where she received from the Washington Post “strong singing and acting” and Connecticut Lyric Opera. Past performances include guest appearances with Pacific Opera, Stony Brook Opera, the Boston University Opera Institute, the Sound Symphony Orchestra, Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra, and Washington Soloist Ensemble. She has also performed recitals in New York, Boston, and Seoul. Her future engagement is the role of Zerlina (Don Giovanni) with Kaliope Opera Society of New York in May, 2011.

    In addition to the standard operatic repertoire, Myeong’s musical interests have led her to Baroque and Contemporary music. Her diverse repertoire includes  the roles of Suzuki (Madame Butterfly), Myrtale (Thais), Tancredi (Tancredi), Ottone (Agrippina), Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), Ottavia (L’Incoronazione di Poppea), Dorabella (Cosi fan Tutte), Jocasta (Oedipus Rex), The Queen (The Thief of Love, world premiere by Sheila Silver), The Neighbor (Stravinky’s Mavra), and Zita (Gianni Schicchi).

    Myeong  received her Bachelor’s degree from Yon Sei University, Korea, and her Master’s Degree from the Manhattan School of Music.  She recently received her Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at the State University of New York at Stony Brook where she studied with Elaine Bonazzi.

    Kwang Kyu Lee, Bass-Baritone, Mustafa. "His voice seems ready for significant operatic career-Has a vocal power that one associates with much more mature basses.",  "Rose impressively to this challenge and displayed a voice that seems destined for a major career-already uses his big, tonally opulent voice with intelligence and subtle control". The Washington Post by Joseph McLellan. Dr. Lee's performances have received rave reviews from the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post which include “He had bel canto quality voices throughout and sang his heart out ----- gave a honeyed quality -----“ The Washington Post and " Lee's arias revealed a dark, powerful voice- His word play of those wonderful coloratura passages brought out with admirable dexterity and flair. Bravo!" The Baltimore Sun.

    Dr. Lee’s Major roles include Sarastro in The Magic Flute, Ferrando in Il Trovatore, the title role of Don Pasquale and Raimondo, Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor,  Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro Commendatore in Don Giovanni, Betto in Gianni Schicchi , Colline in La bohème, Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore, Sacristan in Tosca, Motano in Otello, and Sparafucile in Rigolleto with the Annapolis Opera, Opera in the Heights in Houston, the Summer Opera and the Opera International at the Washington D.C., Maryland Opera Studio, the St. Barthelemy Music Festival, etc. He has also appeared in several oratorios and masses as a bass soloist with several Companies: Hayden’s Creation, Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Dvorák’s Stabat mater with the Fairfax Choral Society; Bach’s Magnificant with the University of Maryland Chorus and Cantata, BWV 4, with The Bach Choral Society; Mozart’s Requiem with American University Choir; Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennele with the University of Maryland Chamber Choir; Saint-Saëns’ The Christmas Oratorio with The Frederic Choral Society; and several recitals including solo concert at The Kennedy Center in The Washington D.C. sponsored by The Korean Embassy and Carnegie Hall in New York, Schumann’s Dichterliebe at the Art Club of Washington D.C., and Schubert’s Winterreise. Mr. Lee won the Grand Prize at the Classical Singers Audcomps with the Audience Choice Award and the Annapolis Opera Competition; the second prize at the New Jersey State Opera International Vocal Competition and the William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition; and the third prize at the Metropolitan Opera Regional Competition, the Liederkranz Foundation Vocal Competition, and The Connecticut Opera Vocal Competition. He has appeared in several productions at the Metropolitan Opera as a chorister. Currently, Mr. Lee achieved his doctorate of Musical Arts in voice performance at the University of Maryland at College Park.

    Anthony Webb, tenor, Lindoro, hails from Spanaway, WA and is in his first year of study for his Doctorate in Music at Indiana University where he continues his vocal studies with Dr. Robert Harrison. At Indiana, he has been seen on the operatic stage as Luigi in the Collegiate Premier of William Bolcom’s A Wedding... as well as The Price in Prokofiev’s rarely heard L’amour des trois Orange. Most recently he performed the role of Lindoro in Rossini’s comic masterpiece L’Italiana in Algeri. On the concert stage Webb has been heard as the Tenor Soloist in the Petite Messa Solennelle and Messa di Gloria by Rossini, Carmina Burana by Orff and Messiah by Handel. In the summer of 2008 Anthony sang the role of The Stranger in the one-act pastiche opera: Il Pecheballo by Frances James Child in the opera’s first performance in nearly a hundred years. Last summer he was an apprentice artist with Des Moines Metro Opera where he performed two roles in operas by Carlisle Floyd: Elder Hayes in Susannah and Josiah Creach in Markheim. These performances of L’Italiana in Algeri mark Anthony’s debut with Bel Cantanti Opera. Upcoming performances include: Carmina Burana with the Bloomington Chamber singers and covering both Arnold and Ruodi in Rossini’s Guillaume Tell at the Caramoor festival in Katonah, NY.

    Eric McKeever, baritone, Taddeo. “From his entrance with the famous ‘Largo al factotum,’ baritone Eric McKeever as Figaro had the audience in his fist. He combined a voice of power and brilliance with a gift for comic timing that fit right in with Rossini's” raved the Chicago Tribune of his debut in Opera Theatre North’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Baritone Eric McKeever has received consistent praise for his vocal and dramatic skill in the works of opera, operetta and musical theatre.

    He received rave reviews for his portrayal of Jake in the 75th Anniversary National tour of Porgy and Bess. KC wrote “Eric McKeever made Jake a dashing, vibrant character, proving that McKeever has plenty of leading man abilities.” The South Florida Classical Review praised him for his “…smoothly vocalized, capable Jake.” The Stamford Times called his performance “beautifully rendered” while called him “cast to perfection.” Engagements for the 2010-2011 season include returning to Dayton Opera to perform Jake in Porgy and Bess; singing the role of Fred Graham in Kiss Me, Kate in his debut with the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival; his role and house debut as Taddeo in L’Italiana in Algeri with Bel Cantanti Opera (DC); appearing as the baritone soloist in

    Kentucky Opera’s tour of Oh Freedom and returning to the PAB Theatre Inc.’s International tour of Porgy and Bess singing Jake. This spring he debuts his new recital project Rogues and Scoundrels in April 2011.

    During the 2009-2010 season, Mr. McKeever performed in the Café Concert Series at the Lancaster (OH) Festival, was the baritone solo in Robert Kapilow’s The Polar Express with Cantilena Concerts, performed the bass solos in Handel’s Messiah with St. John Episcopal Church, appeared as Jake in the PAB Theatre Inc.’s National tour of Porgy and Bess and covered the role of Jake in Porgy and Bess with Virginia Opera. Engagements for the 2008-2009 season included his debut with Phoenix Theatre as Jim in their production of Huck Finn’s American Song, the William Grant Still Festival singing the role of Dessalines in excerpts from the opera Troubled Island and singing the Mandarin in Turandot with Opera Columbus. Recent past performances include Ko-Ko in The Mikado as a guest artist with the University of Louisville, Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia for the Ravinia Festival Kraft Concert for Kids, Maximillian in Candide for the Chicago Cultural Center and Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro for Opera Theatre North. Other career highlights include creating the role of Arthur in T.J. Anderson’s opera Slip Knot, performing with the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Opera in the Neighborhoods, first as Figaro in The Barber of Seville and then as Alidoro in Cinderella and covering the roles of Burnah and the Cook in the world premiere of Anthony Davis’ opera Amistad with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. A recent alumnus of the Virginia Opera Spectrum Artist Program, Mr. McKeever covered the role of Rocco in Fidelio and stepped in for one performance. He has also participated in the Young Artist Programs of Nashville Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Dayton Opera, Kentucky Opera and Des Moines Metro Opera. His concert appearances include the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in works of Gershwin and Aaron Copland, a concert of opera with the Indianapolis Philharmonic and the Des Moines Metro Opera Orchestra’s “Rising Stars” concert. He was the Third Prize winner in the 2001 Young Patronesses of the Opera/Florida Grand Opera and winner of The Ohio State University Concerto Competition where he received his Master’s Degree and performed the roles of Silvio in Pagliacci, Sid in Albert Herring and Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Capital University where he sang the title role in Gianni Schicci, the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance and Billy Bigelow in Carousel.

    A native of Northern California, mezzo-soprano Alexis Tantau, Zulma, earned a Bachelor's Music from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.  As a member of the Maryland Opera Studio, Miss Tantau sang the roles of Arsamene in Handel's Serse and both Hermia and Hippolyta in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Other roles include Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Ottone in Handel’s Agrippina, and Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress.  In recital, Miss Tantau has premiered numerous songs and song cycles.  Miss Tantau is frequently in demand as an interpreter of French repertoire, such as her appearance with Opera du Perigord as Métella in Offenbach’s La Vie Parisienne, and a recent recital dedicated to the work of Reynaldo Hahn.  This past summer, she made her Baltimore debut as the Fairy Queen in Young Victorian Theatre Company's 40th anniversary production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe.  In the fall, she ventures to the Langue d’Oc region of France to engage in a year-long study of her ancestral language, Occitan.  During her stay, she will be performing Les chants d’Auvergne by Joseph Canteloube throughout the South of France.  Miss Tantau is a student of Delores Ziegler.

    Sarah Heisler, soprano, Elvira begins the 2011 season making her debut with Bel Cantanti Opera in the role of Elvira in L’italiana in Algeri. She holds a Bachelor of Music from James Madison University, where she recently appeared in the title role in their production of Carmen. The rich-voiced former mezzo-soprano has also been seen as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, First Lady in Die Zauberflöte, Second Witch in Dido and Aeneas and La Badessa in Suor Angelica. She has appeared for the past three seasons with the Caramoor International Music Festival, where her credits include La forza del destino, L'elisir d'amore, Semiramide, and Norma. In 2007 she received the opportunity to tour with the JMU Opera in Germany program, and sang the Erste Knabe in Die Zauberflöte in a production that toured Chemnitz and Döbeln. She will next be seen as a Young Artist at Lorin Maazel’s Castleton Festival, and will appear as part of the inaugural season of the BlackCreek Music Festival in Toronto, also under the baton of Maestro Maazel.

    Charles Hyland, Baritone, Haly, graduated from Catholic University's Benjamin T. Rome School of Music in May of 2010. He performed a number of roles at the school, including Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, Schaunard in La Boheme, Seneca in L'Incoronazione di Poppea, and Dulcamara in L'Elisir d'Amore. Charles has worked frequently with Bel Cantanti Opera Company, appearing in roles such as Schlendrian in the Coffee Cantata, Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Colline in La Boheme, Lorenzo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, and Curio in Giulio Cesare. He has also been the baritone soloist for performances of The Seven Last Words of Christ and selections from the Messiah. This past fall, Charles sang the role of James in the premiere of The Crossroad, a new chamber opera composed by Roc Lee, as well as Papageno in CUA's production of Die Zauberflöte. His next engagement is in New York with the Martina Arroyo Foundation's Prelude to Performance Program, where he will be singing Masetto in Don Giovanni. Charles currently studies voice with Rick Christman.

    Roger Bennet Riggle, Stage Director.  After making his choreography debut at the Summer Dinner Theatre Program in 1981, Roger has directed and/or choreographed 35 other musicals and operas at Montgomery College in Rockville, MD.  For eight years, Roger served as the Associate Producer of TheatreFest, the professional Equity theatre-in-residence at Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey.  In that capacity, he was involved in presenting performances that have showcased legends of the stage, television and silver screen including Patti LuPone, Debbie Reynolds, Leslie Uggams, Olympia Dukakis, Betty Buckley, Ruth Brown, Rich Little, Melba Moore, Kim Zimmer and Susan Lucci.

    A graduate of The Catholic University of America Drama Department, his many opera directorial and choreographic performances include: Montgomery College: Die Fledermaus, The Merry Widow, The Vagabond King, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Pearl Fishers;  The Maryland Opera Society:  The Marriage of Figaro, Tosca, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Hansel and Gretel, Madama Butterfly, La Boheme;  Opera Camerata:  The Merry Widow, Hansel and Gretel;  The Catholic University of America:  The Old Maid and the Thief.

     Roger has also toured as a performer with National Players, the oldest classical touring company in the United States and Canada. Internationally, he has collaborated on the writing, direction, and choreography of The Best of Broadway and Jumpin’ Jammin’ Jazz for the Montclair State University tours of the Ukraine, Holland, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia. In the summer of 2011, Roger finished his eighth season with the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy where he directs and choreographs operas and/or great opera scenes performed in various cities along the Amalfi coast:  The Magic Flute, La Boheme, Suor Angelica, and Susannah. Roger is in his sixth season as a faculty member of the Pat Berrend Dance Centre in Olney, MD where he teaches tap and jazz dancing.

    Roger is honored to be making is directorial debut with Belle Cantanti’s, L’Italiana in Algeri. Roger is a member of the Society of Directors and Choreographers.

    Deborah Grossman, Assistant Stage Director, is delighted to have this opportunity to work with Bel Cantanti. Ms. Grossman recently returned to the DC area after spending twelve years directing, producing, and stage managing in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Cambridge, England. She started her directing career with an internship at Arena Stage, and then directed and choreographed productions for Source Theater, Opera Americana, Horizons Theater, American Playwrights Theater, Adventure Theater, the Victoria Lyric Opera Company, and the Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society. In the S.F. Bay Area she directed for the Livermore Valley Opera, Pocket Opera, Oakland Lyric Opera, and the Pinole Community Players, stage managed for the San Francisco Opera Center and A.C.T. Conservatory, and produced for California Revels. In England, she worked with the Cambridge Gilbert & Sullivan Society, the Cambridge Opera Society, and the ADC Theatre. Since returning to the DC area, she has produced and stage managed The Christmas Revels for Washington Revels, directed for the Forgotten Opera Company and Montgomery College/Rockville, music directed summer camp productions and workshops for Imagination Stage and Adventure Theatre, and stage managed for the Washington Savoyards. She is currently directing La Belle Helene for the Victorian Lyric Opera Company. Ms. Grossman trained in piano and voice at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. In addition to directing and stage managing, she teaches private voice and musical theatre classes at Imagination Stage, and does occasional rehearsal accompanying.

    Lois Dunlop, Costume Designer, began sewing when she was 9 years old. Lois has been the costumier for Washington Revels since 2004. She recently joined the Bel Cantanti costume staff during the March production of Carmen. In addition to making theater costumes, she enjoys designing and sewing one-of-a-kind garments. She was recently featured in the article “Ultimate Fashion Statement?: Tattoos of Course!” in the online magazine Modern Seamster.

    Kathleen McGhee, Company Costumer, has worked in costume design and construction and costume shop management since 1991. Her costuming credits include over 90 productions across the theater, ballet and opera genres. In the Washington, DC area, her opera costume designs include eight produced for George Mason University Opera Theater, and over twenty produced for Bel Cantanti (since 2003). She works as an Associate Costume Designer for Washington Revels as well. Kathleen is also a pianist and harpist and holds an undergraduate and two graduate degrees in music.

    South Korean mezzo-soprano, Myeongsook Park has garnered acclaim in the United States and abroad. Among her most recent successes are concerts at the Caramoor Festival where she performed on the Mozart Gala along with Sumi Jo, Will Crutchfield and the Caramoor Orchestra. During the same season she covered Ewa Podles for Caramoor’s production of Tancredi. Past performances include guest appearances with Amici Opera, Center Stage opera, Pacific Opera, Stony Brook Opera, the Boston University Opera Institute, the Sound Symphony Orchestra, Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra, and Washington Soloist Ensemble. She has also performed recitals in New York, Boston, and Seoul.

    In addition to the standard operatic repertoire, MyeongSook’s musical interests have led her to Baroque and Contemporary music. Her diverse repertoire includes the roles of Suzuki (Madame Butterfly), Laura (La Gioconda), Myrtale (Thais), Tancredi (Tancredi), Ottone (Agrippina), Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), Ottavia (L’Incoronazione di Poppea), Dorabella (Cosi fan Tutte), Jocasta (Oedipus Rex), The Queen (The Thief of Love, world premiere by Sheila Silver), The Neighbor (Stravinky’s Mavra), and Zita (Gianni Schicchi). Upcoming performances include the role of Zita (Gianni Schicchi) with Connecticut Lyric Opera in April 2010.

    MyeongSook received her Bachelor’s degree from Yon Sei University, Korea, and her Master’s Degree from the Manhattan School of Music. She recently received her Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at the State University of New York at Stony Brook where she studied with Elaine Bonazzi.

    Soprano Maryann Mootos, Nedda, will add the roles of Madama Butterfly with Northern Dutchess Symphony Orchestra and Floria Tosca with Opera Company of Brooklyn to her repertoire in 2011. Ms. Mootos is also scheduled to sing the role of Tatyana in Eugene Onegin with Opera Manhattan in August, 2010. Ms. Mootos added the role of Violetta to her repertoire in La Traviata with Long Island Opera this year. Recent performances also include Micaela in Carmen, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, and Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust with Regina Opera. The soprano also debuted the roles of Suor Angelica in Puccini’s opera Suor Angelica and the First Lady in Die Zauberflöte with the Opera Company of Brooklyn. She has performed leading roles with Miami Lyric Opera, Chelsea Opera, Chorus pro Musica and Amato Opera. Soloist appearances include performances with Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, Riverside Opera and Reading Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Mootos was the recipient of the Marquis Award in the Emerging Professional Division of the 2006 Classical Singer AudComps Competition. In 2005, she studied and performed abroad in Spoleto, Italy with the Spoleto Arts Symposia. Ms. Mootos received a Bachelor’s degree in Voice from the Eastman School of Music, and her Master’s degree in Opera Performance from Temple University where she attended on a full scholarship.

    Baritone Daniel Quintana, Gianni Schicchi, marks his second time in the title role of Gianni Schicchi and his debut with Bel Cantanti Opera. He recently created the role of Guardia/Prete/Cardinale for the World Premiere of Franceso Cilluffo's Il Caso Mortara, commissioned by Dicapo Opera Theatre in New York. The 2010-2011 season marks Mr. Quintana's fifth year in opera. Previous to this, he had a collective 20 years in drama, musical theatre, magic, and as an emcee. With this he brought to life Count Gil in Il Segreto di Susanna (Opera Manhattan) and Smirnov in William Walton's The Bear (Chelsea Opera). Past performances include Manfredo in L'Amore dei Tre Re (Bleecker Street Opera), Marcello in La Boheme (Opera Las Vegas), Mr. Maguire in Tobias Picker's Emmeline (Dicapo Opera/Cover) Valentin in Faust (Regina Opera) and Yamadori in Madama Butterfly (Dicapo Opera). Special thanks to his wife Emily and teacher Judith Fredricks for their continued support.

    American baritone Jerett Gieseler, Tonio, Simone, has been hailed as one of the most promising young baritones today, with "a powerful voice" of "great dignity and lyrical intensity" ( Gieseler is a prizewinner of the 2010 Irene Dalis Competition; the 2009 Liederkranz Vocal Competition, Wagner Division; the 2009 Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, Wagner Division; the 2007 Chester Ludgin Memorial Verdi Baritone Competition; and the recipient of two grants from the Wagner Society of New York.During the 2009/10 season, Gieseler portrays Scarpia in Tosca with Annapolis Opera; the title role of Macbeth with Taconic Opera; Tonio in I Pagliacci and Simone in Gianni Schicchi in a double-bill with Bel Cantanti Opera; the lead role in the world-premiere production of Maurice Saylor’s one-act opera Unfinished Sermons, first in Arlington, VA, and then in Denver, CO; the baritone soloist in William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the Handel Society of Dartmouth College; and then his first Wotan, in Das Rheingold, with the Liederkranz Opera Theatre.

    In the upcoming 2010/11 season, Gieseler will portray Marcello in La Boheme with Stockton Opera; Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with Annapolis Opera; and the title role of Barber of Seville with Opera Grand Rapids.

    Recent engagements include two critically acclaimed concerts of Wagnerian arias under the auspices of the Evelyn Lear and Thomas Stewart Emerging Singers Program in Washington DC; Germont in La Traviata with Bel Cantanti Opera in Washington DC; and Tonio in I Pagliacci with The Bronx Opera Company.

    Gieseler holds a Master's degree from Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor's degree from Morehead State University in Kentucky.

    Texas native Nathan Carlisle, Rinuccio, Beppe, has performed across the country in leading operatic tenor roles, including Tamino in The Magic Flute , Ernesto in Don Pasquale , Nemorino in The Elixir of Love , Danillo in The Merry Widow , Thomas Putnam in The Crucible , and Spalanzani and Frantz in Les Contes d’Hoffmann , appearing with such companies as Annapolis Opera, Hudson Opera Theather, VPR Brooklyn Opera, The Yard Opera on Martha’s Vineyard, and Denton Lyric Opera, among others. During his five years with the US Air Force Singing Sergeants, Nathan performed for over 20 White House Dinners, the funerals of Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, and as a featured soloist for Veteran’s Day 2007 at Arlington National Cemetery. Also an avid concert soloist, he was featured in Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2 Lobgesang with the American University Symphony Orchestra, and in Mozart’s C Minor Mass at St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C. Nathan currently resides in Manhattan, where he is pursuing a graduate degree from the Aaron Copland School of Music, in addition to being a member of the celebrated Metropolitan Opera Chorus.

    Thomas Gunther, baritone, Silvio in Pagliacci and Marco in Gianni Schicchi, who was most recently seen as Gianni Schicchi in Gianni Schicchi at Michigan's Soo Theatre Project, is a recent graduate of The University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music where he performed such roles as Slim in Of Mice and Men, Le Mari in Les Mamelles de Tiresias and Figaro in Il Barbierie di Siviglia. A Master's Degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Bachelor of Music from Simpson College has given him the opportunity to perform many roles including Joseph DeRocher in Dead Man Walking, Guglielmo in Cosí fan tutte, King Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, Thomas Putnam in The Crucible and Billy Bigalow in Carousel. Mr. Gunther has performed in the United States and abroad as Marcello in La Bohéme, including for La Musica Lirica in Italy. In Mr. Gunther's performance of Starvling in Des Moines Metro Opera's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, he was reviewed in Opera News as "One of the summer's outstanding performers."

    Soprano Courtney Ross, Lauretta, a recent graduate of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music possesses a voice that has been described as "silken...flawless, light and cool..." (Palo Alto Weekly) as well as a "lovely shaded soprano"(Fort Worth Star Telegram). Ms. Ross has performed with companies such as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Bel Cantanti Opera, the National Philharmonic, the National Opera Association, the Loudoun Symphony, West Bay Opera, Opera San Jose, the La Jolla Symphony, the Waterford Concert Series, Ensemble Monterey, and the Santa Cruz Chamber Symphony. In May 2009 Courtney debuted with the Fort Worth Opera during their Opera Festival, singing the roles of Frasquita in Carmen and Kitty Hart in Dead Man Walking. Awards and honors in 2008-2009 include a grant from the Anna Sosenko Foundation for young artists, finals for the San Francisco Opera Merola Program, finalist for the Fielder Grant Vocal Competition, semi-finalist for the Orpheus Competition and the Irma Cooper International Vocal Competition. Roles of note include Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore, Gilda in Rigoletto, Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Antonia in Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Xanthe/Aphrodite in Lysistrata, as well as Hanna in The Merry Widow, Gianetta in L’Elisir d’amore and the Moon in the World Premiere of Before Night Falls at Fort Worth Opera in 2010, which will be recorded for release with Albany Records. Recent engagements include concerts with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Fort Worth Symphony.

    Now a resident of New York City, tenor Kevin Courtemanche, Canio, makes his Bel Cantanti Opera début in his favourite role, Canio in I Pagliacci. He hails from New Hampshire, but has spent his time honing his craft in such far off lands as New York, Baltimore, Boston, St. Petersburg, Florida, Los Angeles and San Francisco and such local opera hotbeds as France and the Czech Republic. Kevin created the role of the Brigadier General in Philip Glass' Appomattox at San Francisco Opera in 2007, and Uncle Farnam in the World Première of Joel Andrew Weiss’ The Offshore Pirate and the Messenger in the World Première of Waundell Saavedra’s The Great Supper in 2010. He also sang the roles of the Sacristan, Alessandro and an Opera Singer in the World Première production of Mark Weiser’s Where Angels Fear to Tread at Peabody Opera Theatre in 1999. Elsewhere Kevin has played the title roles in Verdi’s Otello, Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann and Gounod’s Faust; Turiddu in Cavalleria rusticana and Canio in I Pagliacci (in the same performance!), Radamès in Aida, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Calaf in Turandot, Don José in Carmen, The Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, the Chevalier in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Macduff in Macbeth, the Mother(!) in The Seven Deadly Sins, Tamino in The Magic Flute, Tony in A View from the Bridge, The Witch(!) in Hansel and Gretel, Alfred in Die Fledermaus, Judge Danforth in The Crucible, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi, Rodolfo in La Bohème, Pluto in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld and the Dons, Basilio and Curzio (again, in the same performance!) in Le nozze di Figaro. Future engagements (all in New York City) include King Carlo VII in Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco with New York Grand Opera, Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca with Amore Opera (both October) and Judge Danforth in Robert Ward’s The Crucible with Empire Opera (Spring 2011).

    SopranoAshley Elisabeth Alden, Nella, is a graduate of Catholic University of America, where she performed many roles such as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus and Musetta in La Boheme. Most recently Miss Alden performed the role of the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflote in a joint festival with CUA and Bel Cantanti Opera in June. She will reprise this role again in the CUA production in November 2010. Miss Alden has participated in many other festivals such as The European Academy for Music in Montepulciano, Italy, and MusicFest Perugia, in Perugia, Italy. Upon graduation she received the Performance Award for her class and was given the honor to sing the national anthem for graduation activities. Miss Alden has worked with Bel Cantanti, both on and off stage, for four years and is very excited to continue this relationship.

    Zain Shariff, Guiccio, Production Coordinator. A recent graduate of the University of Maryland, baritone Zain Shariff has appeared in performances of Armide, Così fan tutte, Eugene Onegin, Xerxes, and L'elisir d'amore with the Maryland Opera Studio; Carmen with Summer Opera Theatre Company; Faust with Opera Camerata of Washington, and in La traviata, Don Pasquale, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, and Carmen with Bel Cantanti Opera. He has sung the roles of the Notary in Don Pasquale, The Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlo, and Tom in Un ballo in maschera with Repertory Opera Theatre of Washington, as well as Masetto in Don Giovanni and Perichaud in La Rondine with the Riverbend Opera Company. Non-operatic roles include Ali Hakim in Oklahoma! and the Vicomte de Nanjac in An Ideal Husband. This fall, he will sing the roles of Benoît and Alcindoro in Repertory Opera's production of La Bohême. By day, he is the operations manager for a facilities consulting ?rm in Columbia, MD. Zain serves on the board of Bel Cantanti Opera and functions as the production coordinator for both the Summer Festival and main season.

    Kate Jackman, mezzo-soprano, La Ciesca, is a multifaceted musician and actress who is as comfortable on the concert stage as she is in operatic roles. Her roles include Hippolyta in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hero in Cavalli’s L’Egisto, the title role in Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Jou-Jou in Lehar’s The Merry Widow, Prince Orlofsky in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, Hansel in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, and La Ciesca in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.

    In 2009, Ms. Jackman sang the alto solos in Handel’s Messiah over internationally televised programming with The Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, D.C., where she currently sings as a soloist and chorister. In 2008, she traveled to Rome with the Basilica choir to participate the International Festival of Sacred Music and Art. Also in 2008, Ms. Jackman was a featured soloist in a televised memorial commemorating the 2008 floods in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

    Ms. Jackman graduated Cum Laude from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, studying under Dr. Lynn Eustis. She is currently a first-year graduate student, studying with Phyllis Bryn-Julson at the Peabody Institute.

    Rameen Chaharbaghi, Notary, Maestro Spinelloccio, is a senior Music Education major at the University of Maryland, where he studies with Martha Randall. Past roles performed include Papageno Die Zauberflote, Ben The Telephone, Malatesta Don Pasquale. A recipient of the Presser Foundation Scholarship and the Stringer Foundation for the Performing Arts Scholarship, he performed Samuel Barber's chamber work "Dover Beach" as part of the InterHarmony International Music Festival, and again on his Senior Recital program this past March. Mr. Chaharbaghi has also premiered several of his own compositions, including a set of Farsi songs. Non-operatic roles include the title role in Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Po in the new musical The Meatball. This spring, he will appear as Belcore in the Repertory Opera Theater of Washington’s production of L’Elisir d’amore.

    Christopher Bowen, Tenor, Pinellino, is a Master's student at The Catholic University of America in orchestral conducting, where he studies with David Searle, as well as studying voice with Rick Christman. He previously attended Stanford University where he received a B.A. in Music (Conducting) with honors. He recently sang Frank in Die Fledermaus and was the assistant conductor for CUA's production of Le Nozze di Figaro. He would like to thank his parents for always supporting his musical endeavors and Rick Christman for having the patience to teach him how to sing.

    James Krabbendam, bass, Maestro Spinelloccio, Notary, is currently studying at the University of Maryland. He participated in the Bel Cantanti Summer Program last year as Dr. Dulcamara in L'Elisir d'amore. At the University of Maryland, James recently appeared in the world premiere of Frank Proto's Shadowboxer, an opera based on the life of Joe Lewis. Other chorus work includes Carmen, Eugene Onegin, and I Capuleti e i Montecchi.

    Andrew Adelsberger, Betto, 2nd Villager, bass-baritone, recently performed with Lorin Maazel’s Castleton Festival as Matt of the Mint in The Beggar’s Opera and Maestro Spinelloccio in Gianni Schicchi. Andrew holds a Master of Music from the Maryland Opera Studio where he performed the roles of Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte and Gus O’Neil in the world premiere of John Musto’s Later the Same Evening. Other roles include, Mr. Kofner in The Consul (Chautauqua Opera), the Sacristan in Tosca (Chautauqua Opera, Annapolis Opera), Nardo im La Finta Giardiniera, Elviro in Xerxes, Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Maryland Opera Studio), Don Magnifico (cover) in La Cenerentola (Opera New Jersey), Dulcamara in L’elisir d’Amore (Bel Cantanti Opera, Chesapeake Chamber Opera), Courchemin in Le Déserteur (Opera Lafayette), Dr. Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro (Shaker Mountain Festival). Concert credits include; Schubert’s Winterreise, Raphael and Adam in The Creation, as well as the bass solos in Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, Fauré’s Requiem, Haydn’s Paukenmesse and Nelson Mass, and the Bruckner Te Deum. Andrew studies with renowned Swiss bass, François Loup.

    Tenor Eric Gramatges, Gherardo, 1st Villager, student of Rick Christman, is a doctorial candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Opera Vocal Performance at The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at The Catholic University of America where he has earned his Master of Music degree in Vocal Pedagogy and has performed the roles of Eisenstein in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, Lucano in Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea, Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème, The Stage Manager in Rorem’s Our Town, Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amore, Candide in Bernstein’s Candide, Nireno in Handel’s Giulio Cesare, Ferrando in Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte, and Mr. Marshal in Blitzstein’s Regina. Eric graduated from The Mason Gross School of the Arts of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and performed in several operas on and off campus as well as in benefit concerts for charitable organizations. In Washington, DC, he has performed the role of Gastone in both Bel Cantanti’s and Opera International’s productions of La Traviata, Victorin in The Summer Opera Theater Company’s production of Korngold’s Die Tode Stadt, has sung for The In Series on their Viva Zarzuela program, and has been a guest soloist for several regional choral ensembles. He has sung for multiple churches in the DC area, including The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as a soloist, cantor, and section leader. He also has been a National Officers’ Club Scholarship Winner of the Ethel and Carl C. Galbraith Scholarship from the Daughters of the American Revolution.

    Stephen Shaffran, Gherardino, is in the fifth grade advanced academic program at Canterbury Woods Elementary School in Annandale, VA. He previously appeared as Messenger Boy in Summer Opera Theater’s Little Women (2007), and in the ensemble of the St. Albans Episcopal Church production of Amahl and the Night Visitors (2008). He also was a member of the St Cecilia and Junior Choirs at St. Albans. Stephen has won photography awards at Canterbury Woods and excels in other fine arts, enjoys math and loves spending time with his family, including his cats Steven and Eddy. He is delighted to be making his Bel Cantanti Opera debut with this production.

    Artistic Staff

    Jonathan Solari is a director of Theatre and Opera based in Brooklyn, New York. His recent directing credits include Playback at Prague's Divadlo Ponec and an original piece for Belarus Free Theatre in Minsk. Jonathan has worked extensively as an Assistant Director on and off Broadway. He has also directed Ricky Ian Gordon’s Green Sneakers (Vail Valley Music Festival), The Voice of the City (Geneva Theatre), Howard Barker’s Judith (Kraine Theater), Kesav Wable’s For Flow (Theater for the New City) and revived productions for Maestro Lorin Maazel's Castelton Festival.

    Kathleen McGhee, Costume Designer, has worked in costume design and construction and costume shop management since 1991. Her costuming credits include over 75 productions across the theater, ballet and opera genres, including the design for all of the Bel Cantanti opera productions since the inception of the company. Kate is also a pianist and harpist and holds an undergraduate and two graduate degrees in music.

    Lois Dunlop (Associate Costume Designer) began sewing when she was 9 years old. Lois has been the costumier for Washington Revels since 2004. She recently joined the Bel Cantanti costume staff during the March production of Carmen. In addition to making theater costumes, she enjoys designing and sewing one-of-a-kind garments. She was recently featured in the article “Ultimate Fashion Statement?: Tattoos of Course!” in the online magazine Modern Seamster.